This article analyses the links between the established role of the family in the system of social protection and the quality of women's presence in the labour market. In particular, on the ground of the results of two empirical researches about female judges and about female academics at the University of Pisa, the services realized by welfare policies aimed at supporting family charges emerge as essential instruments to promote equal opportunities. Moreover, the author underlines that the removing of several and persistent obstacles preventing women from going up the ladder depends on different factors which regard both the sphere of production and the sphere of reproduction. As a consequence, reconciling of time for work and care and sharing of duties of care, together with changes in working organization are essential measures to overpass gender discrimination. Act n. 53/2000 acknowledged the need of a better balance between family life and working life. Nevertheless, in addition to developments in legislation, this need should emerge in society as a whole, leaving its mark on the public administration activity and changing the habits of the family.